Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book 29 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hi bandwagon, thanks for letting me catch up.

For months I stared at the cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, debating whether or not to take the plunge.

It's an intimidating book. In size alone. At more than 800 pages, Stieg Larrson's novel weighs about three pounds. The chapters are long-ish, the type small-ish. I admit, I wasn't sure I could commit.

The year is dwindling away and I'd only completed 28 books in my 100 Books in 2010 challenge. Could I realistically fit this tome into my schedule?

Fate intervened.

At a giant book sale, I found a perfect copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a $1. Somehow, it then landed at the TOP of my TBR pile. I read the first chapter - and more than a week later, I'm proud to say I've completed all 835 pages.

Though not without struggle.

That isn't to say the book isn't good. Larrson created cmemorable and compelling characters, not at all cardboard-cutouts. Of particular note, of course, IS the girl with the dragon tattoo, who kind of reminds me of Lara Croft without the cliche. She's a tough chick with a crappy past and some mad skills, though somewhat illegal.

Lisbeth Salander is (eventually) paired up with Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist who is hired by an eccentric Swedish businessman to try and solve the mysterious disappearance of his niece 40 years earlier. There are several other story lines as well - and happily, they're woven together in a way that makes sense.

Although I enjoyed the book, the strength of its success (in my opinion) is Lisbeth. Near the end of the book, I found myself wanting to skip through Blomkvist's point of view so I could see what happens to Lisbeth next - and sadly, I found the final scene with her a bit disappointing. That being said, I understand the second book in the series is primarily about her, an equally as intimidating novel, but one I will definitely some point.

After finishing the book last night, I thought "sleeping on it" would help me decide how I truly feel about it. I'm still undecided.

The first 100 pages or so were difficult - the book was translated from Swedish and it took some time to get used to the names (long and difficult to pronounce), the word choices, the spelling. And in the first few chapters, there are large paragraphs about a Swedish financial conspiracy that are important but make for rather dry reading.

But then there were giant portions of the book that mesmerized me. Rich character development, exciting twists of plot, and a unique writing style propelled me through the middle of the novel. To be honest, I even dreamed about Lisbeth and Mikael on more than one occasion.

And then...things teetered off again. I struggled through the last 200 pages.

I can't even say the book should be "X" number of pages shorter because I wouldn't even know where to cut. And while there doesn't seem to be any padding to the text, many scenes lack the sensory detail that would help to provide a better sense of place. Could I describe Sweden to you? No. But I could tell you the innermost secrets of Lisbeth and Mikael as though I'd known them my whole life.

Which is why I couldn't have stopped reading the book if I'd tried.

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb


  1. Hey Dawn. My first comment. I so loved this book, I ran straight our to Chapters and bought book two. Now, book three is being release here the DAY AFTER I leave for Las Vegas. Damn. I'm in mourning for Stieg Larsson, knowing there will only ever be the trilogy. I'm glad you're in the Lisbeth Salander fan club now. And Imitation in Death, is that newer than Kindred in Death. That was my latest JDRobb read, and I loved it.

    Take care kiddo.


  2. Hi Sandy! Thanks for dropping by, sugar. I hear you about Steig Larrson - such talent! And it's heart-breaking he never got to see his success. Imitation is NOT newer than Kindred - I kind of got behind in the series (Bad, Dawn!) and then started re-reading them... But I don't have them all, so I'm picking through. Can't get enough of Roarke :-)
    Have an awesome trip! xo (miss you)

  3. PS - why did I not know you have blogs?!

  4. I've just been lent the book by my mother, who swears it's awesome if I can make it through chapter 1. My response was, "I'll try. But if an author can't catch me in chapter 1, it doesn't look promising." So far, I've read the prologue ;-)

  5. Me? Blogs? Yeah, not very good with any of them... it takes discipline I just don't have. I had to laugh at my Badass Grandma - I have ONE entry, and in that one small entry, I ponder whether or not I have the stamina to continue. Hmmm. Apparently not. :) Miss you, too, girl. We should get together for drinks one day...


  6. Wendy - a friend who has seen the movie said she felt like the prologue was kind of "plopped in" to entice the reader, which I think it did. Get past the first few chapters. It's worth it :-) I agree though, I like to hooked in the first few pages - most days by the first line.

    S - I did check out your blogs. YOU CAN DO IT. You're so talented. Drinks?! Name the time and place, babe. xo

  7. I haven't been tempted to read this yet. I always shy away when a book gets as much publicity as this one has. I will probably get around to it eventually...finding it for a buck would certainly help.

  8. While reading your post all I could think was "How do you write 800 pages?" I mean seriously. I can't imagine. I'm at 100 pages of my WIP and I'm wondering if I can get another 100 pages out of the story.

    And then reading it? You're a brave woman.

  9. That length of book would intimidate me as well - plus, I'd worry it would take up too much of my time.

    You might have changed my mind - though, I'd save a book like this til winter.

  10. Suzanne - I completely agree! It's that saggy taffy middle that gets me every time. I think the reason I hesitated reading it for so long was because I promised myself that THIS year I would read every book I started until the end, because in the past, I've given up after the first chapter. I admit, this one scared me.

    Jaydee - absolutely a winter-by-the-fire and snowed-in kind of read.

  11. i plan on reading this, but not anywhere in the near future, for pretty much all the reasons you listed.

    thanks for the review!

  12. Miss V - I'm like that, as well. One of the reasons I have't read several of the books that are really hyped. But...I would recommend this one, if not for the interesting example of character development. (Somehow your comment was buried and I didn't see it until now...sorry.)

    Mi - keep it for a long weekend when all you want to do is read ;-)